Nice Times (4)

Continuing my happy mood with more memories that make me feel good.

Taking my mum to The Ritz Hotel in London for the classic High Tea. A birthday treat for her 80th, and something she had never done. She was thrilled by the opulent surroundings, and the quality of the food served. Then some waiters brought a tiny birthday cake to the table, with one lit candle in it. They sung Happy Birthday to her, and the others in the restaurant gave her a round of applause. The look on her face was priceless. She treasured that cake, and kept it in its little box in her fridge for the next seven years. I found it still there, when I was clearing out her fridge after she had died.

Picking Ollie up from the Animal Hospital in Newmarket. He had just had his final eye operation for Entropion, and had been kept in for three nights after. His sheer delight at seeing us arrive to collect him brought happy tears to my eyes.

Standing on a hotel balcony in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Just across the street from that hotel was the splendour of the famous Registan temple complex. I had read about Samarkand and the silk route when I was very young. Now here I was, standing opposite that history. I felt every second of that moment, deep inside.

I was part of the ambulance crew that was first on scene at the Ladbroke Grove train crash in 1999, one of the biggest rail disasters in British history. Acting as incident officer, I had to request every available ambulance in London to attend the scene. As they started to arrive, I recognised one crew, a young man and woman from Fulham Ambulance Station. I asked them to help me triage the injured that were being brought to a central point, and for one of them to set up an aid station for walking wounded in a nearby school. At the debrief over six hours later, they approached me and said, “We were so nervous about going to that job, but when we saw you were there sorting things out, we knew we would be okay”. One of the best things anyone ever said to me, in my entire life.

Sitting in a lounge chair outside our cabin at the Kilimanjaro Safari Lodge, in Kenya. I was drinking a gin and tonic before dinner, looking at the distant mountain as thousands of wildebeest crossed the horizon. My wife was inside showering and getting ready, and I sensed a movement next to me. I was amazed to see a huge male Mandrill had come and sat next to my chair. Not much smaller than me, with its distinctive coloured facial markings, and teeth as big as a wolf. I was really scared, yet fascinated. It watched me closely for a few moments before walking away. It was completely non threatening, and I felt the connection with a wild animal that meant me no harm. A simply unforgettable moment.

60 thoughts on “Nice Times (4)

  1. I have missed so much, this is heartwarming Pete, tea with your beloved mum, standing beside history, making people feel safe and secure, sweet Ollie, and sharing a moment with a wild animal. Extraordinary, made me tear up, smile, feel such joy! Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  2. More lovely memories. The one about your mum keeping the cake had me in tears.
    I have some marvellous memories of Samarkand – and also a memory of being as drunk as I’ve ever been in my life from an injudicious mix of Uzbek champagne and several vodkas knocked back

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this series, Pete. Your memories of treating your mother to a luxurious tea at the Ritz, no less, brought tears to my eyes. How beautiful, how touching that she keep her birthday cake in the fridge all those years. And the Mandrill…wow! A gorgeous, magnificent creature! It sensed your kindness, Pete. That’s why it came so close.

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  4. Your mother must have been so happy with the cake and the love in it. Many years ago we were in Lothal, a site of the Indus valley civilization and I was filled with wonder to be there, imagining life in those long, long ago times. Thank you for sharing your precious memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. I am sure I would feel the same as you, marvelling at the ancient civilisations in the Indus valley. You have a wonderful cultural history in India, with a civilised society existing long before that existed in Europe.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. (1) Only the haughty drink the high tea at the Ritz.
    (2) I read that the diamond miners on the planet Entropion have gone on strike. They don’t see eye to eye with the company’s hard-nosed safety commissioner.
    (3) I once fabricated a tale about a silkworm rebellion at the Registan cocoon complex.
    (4) A former prime minister once said: “Sure, you can Fool the people some of the time, but you can’t Fulham all of the time.” He came to this conclusion after years of railroading dubious legislation through Parliament.
    (5) Diary entry: “One day here in Kenya, I sat down beside a friendly-looking male human who was drinking a gin and tonic. I fully expected him to offer me a drink. But he didn’t. Bad times…”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Don. Sadly, that cake had rotted in its box over seven years, even stored in a fridge. I had to (reluctantly) dump it. But I didn’t need the cake to recall that happy day, so that’s fine.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your ambulance story…that must be very special. Knowing what to do and how to lead and direct in such a situation, that is a very great credit. I love all your memories but the Mandrill is also very special. I find that large, potentially dangerous animals generally leave you alone if you don’t react with fear or threaten them. Really cheering memories, Pete. Thank you for them.

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  7. oh i’m enjoying this series a lot, Pete. please keep them coming! i love the first one and as a mother, i can totally relate! not sure about the Mandrill though. i probably would have had a heart attack 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. By far, I’ve enjoyed this series the most of all that I have read of your blog. And considering the rest of your works that I have enjoyed? That says a lot.

    Hoping this one continues for quite a while.

    Cheers Pete!


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Unforgettable moments and an unforgettable post. As a dislocated Londoner, I have shared experience of a couple of those you mention. Please accept my apologies for my dismal attendance record recently: catching this was a moment of serendipity. I am a failed multi-tasker who never fails to wish the best for you, Julie and Ollie.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pete, you have certainly experienced some amazing and challenging adventures in your life. It is nice to see how High Tea with your mother on her birthday is among the high points. I would have liked to travel more, but it is so expensive from here so I will live vicariously through your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taking my mum out to a special occasion was something I tried to do a lot more as she grew older. We both got happy memories from those occasions. She talked about them until she died.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. These are not just nice times but amazing times. Things that stay with you forever. How sweet that your mom saved that little cake. I will be forever thankful for the special times I had with my parents, like taking them on an Alaskan cruise, to Hawaii and to the UK. I too recall the look on my mom´s face when she was treated so well on the cruise. Thankfully we have these special memories.

    Liked by 2 people

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